Snacking 2.0: The Best Healthy Snacks for Summer 2017

Last month my very nice postman delivered 6 wellness subscription boxes for me to review and write about in the Evening Standard. As my mother has always said, I “eat like a bird” (i.e. little and very often) and as such snacks are pretty much my favourite thing ever.

The goodness project subscription box

Vegan Wellness Subscription Box from The Goodness Project

Through this assignment, I discovered some super cool healthy products that wouldn’t usually make it onto my radar and of course I want to share the love. Here they are – the perfect bites to keep your energy levels up in this summer heat.

Snack on! Pep ❤

  1. Dried Jujube fruit from Abakus Foods
    Vegan, Gluten Free
    abakusfoods.com | @abakusfoods

    Dried Jujube Fruit from Abacus Foods

    Dried Jujube Fruit – aka Red Dates – are popular in Asia

If you’ve never had a Jujube, think sort-of-a date but not as sticky. The Abakus website states that “This superfood is packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, and are known to help uplift the mood, calm the mind, improve sleep, and boost the immune system. They are beneficial for overall health and vitality. The fresh fruit has 20x more vitamin C than citrus fruits!”

Jujube fruit (Red dates)

Toast with avocado, halved jujube fruits, blueberries and crunchy jujube sprinkles

When I was in Taiwan last winter, my Mother in law waxed lyrical about the health properties of Jujube fruit (aka Red Dates) and would serve them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To be honest I was sick of them by the end of our 15 week trip, but after a 5 month hiatus, I’m ready to get back on the Jujube horse.

Energy balls with dried jujube

Energy balls made with jujube fruit, cacao powder, nuts and chia seeds

In the dried form these make for the most satisfying mid-morning munch. Follow AbaKus on Instagram to see all the creative ways you can add them to your diet:

porridge with fruit toppings and jujube crunchy sprinkles

Porridge with fruit toppings and jujube sprinkles

2. Choco Rocket Raw CookiesiRaw Healthy Habits
Vegan, Gluten Free
irawuk.com | @iRawUK

Choco raw cookies

These feel like they should be super naughty but I really don’t think they are… Cacao and carob mixed with a lil bit of maple syrup makes for a really chocolatey and satisfying nibble. Particularly appeasing if, like me, you suffer from regular chocolate brownie cravings. Amazingly they hit the spot – utter yum.

3. Beetroot cashew bounce ball
Vegan, Gluten Free
uk.bouncefoods.com | @bounce_uk

Bounce vegan protein energy ball beetroot

Beetroot Cashew Vegan Ball – a blend of beetroot and cashew nuts

This was probably my favourite surprise of all the snacks I tried (this was a tough research project, I tell you!). Being a 100% committed chocoholic I always gravitate towards the cocoa-flavoured energy balls and I wouldn’t usually choose this flavour. Much to my pleasant surprise, sweet beetroot and cashew nuts make for a shockingly good combo and 9g of veggie protein will fill you up and stop you from reaching for another one… perhaps.

4. Squirrel Sisters Cacao Brownie
Vegan, Gluten Free
squirrelsisters.com | @squirrelsisters

Another chocolate hit. Brownies are sooooo good, and yet so bad for you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t treat yourself to the real deal once in a while, but if you’re looking for something to indulge in more regularly, these gluten-free, dairy-free and all natural bars will curb your craving.

Squirrel Sisters Raw Energy Bar

Raw Cacao Energy Bar

The sugar comes from raw dates making them much more “healthie”-friendly that those made with refined sugar.

5. Salt & Pepper Popped Lotus Seeds — Nuto
Vegan, Gluten Free
mynuto.com | @nutosnacks

Meet Popcorn’s cooler sister… lotus seed.

Salt & Pepper popped lotus seed snack

Salt & Pepper popped lotus seed snack

Popcorn is soooo 2015, friends! This popped lotus seed tastes sort of like popcorn but I’m sure it’s better for you – it’s a good source of protein, anyhoot. It was also a big hit with my husband – I barely got a look in!

6. Quinoa, Cashew & Beetroot Porridge
Vegan, Gluten Free
louolas.co.uk | @louolas

The brand name is a little tough to get your mouth around but the product certainly isn’t – this is delicious!

louolas quinoa porridge

Coconut, Cashew & Beetroot Quinoa Porridge

quinoa porridge

As seen on my Insta! I topped it with blueberries, coconut flakes & a splish of almond milk.

7. Curry Crunch Seeds — The Toasted Seed Company
Vegan
thetoastedseedcompany.co.uk

Finally, these weirdly good curry seeds. Seeds are a MUST-have addition to your diet if you want to up your health-game; they are high in protein, minerals, and healthy fats that can increase your energy levels, reduce fatigue and contribute to healthy hair, skin, teeth and bones. Give me some of that!

toasted seed company curry crunch

Curry flavoured toasted seeds

The Omega 3s and 6s in these teeny powerhouses also contribute hugely to your positive mental wellbeing, too, and are easy to snack on throughout the day.  I have also tossed these bad boys onto salads, couscous, and used them to top off a home-made hummus. An absolute winner.

And there you have it, the coolest vegan & gluten free snacks to get your hands on this summer!

If you’re interested in getting sent cool products like these on a monthly basis, check out the UK wellness subscription boxes I wrote about here.

 

15 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Stuck / Lethargic / Unmotivated / Just MEH.

Whether it’s the short, dark days, a break up, a stressful time at work – or sometimes it’s just because – we all get stuck in a lethargic rut from time to time. Here are some of my tried and tested happiness boosters for this inevitable time.

doggy.jpg(Unfortunately you won’t find eating a tub of ice cream or getting wasted at the pub on this list. While I do think there is a time and a place for these things – especially if you’re doing it with your BFFs! – generally you won’t wake up the next morning feeling ready to take on the world again – which is the goal here.) Onwards and upwards… Continue reading

Sisters & Happiness

Today I had lunch with two sisters. One is a (my) yoga teacher, one a doctor, they were born 22 months apart. What a special honour! It reminded me that there is an energy and spirit between sisters that can’t be matched.

I ADORE my relationship with my younger sister. I love our conversation; the details of our daily lives, thoughts, emotions and relationships – often seemingly pointless to an outsider but so incrediblsisters-cactusy important to us.

I love our dynamic; no judgement whatsoever, even when one of us is acting good-crazy or bad-crazy.

I love our memories; our childhood habits & idiosyncrasies, our family holidays, our first-everythings.

I love our honesty; we’d both no doubt look and act like a hot mess without the tough love we direct at one another to course-correct bad decisions and cheer on the good ones.

I love that we share the same parents. That sounds dumb in writing, but who else can understand the intricacies of the most important relationships of our lives?

There was a study released several years ago that says sisters make you happier, more optimistic and “better at coping with life’s problems”. The theory is that the open communication sisters have is good for our emotional health.

Side note: after living with my sister for 3 months this summer I had to be careful when socialising with other people – we’d spent so much time together speaking SO openly and intimately that I became used to that level of conversation. Most inappropriate in the majority of social situations 🙂

I love you sis! There’s no one I’d rather share my chocolate cake with…

sisters-chocolate-cake-happy

Pep ❤

A Sense of Perspective Can Fix Just About Anything

One deranged gunman, 50 beautiful lives cut short in a few short minutes. A sense of perspective.

Ugandan children abandoned by their birth mothers yet still singing and dancing because love and generosity defies biology. A sense of perspective.

Hundreds of migrants still making the dangerous crossing everyday, not knowing what lies on the other side but firmly believing that ANYTHING is better than this. A sense of perspective.

THERE IS ENOUGH TO GO ROUND.

A less than perfect house: A sense of perspective. (You have a safe, warm roof over your head.)

Continue reading

9 Things I Learned About Happiness from Living in Japan

japanFrom 2006 – 2010 I lived and worked in Japan; 2 years in the remote countryside and 20 months in the busy metropolis of Tokyo. The two places and experiences were so vastly different that they felt almost like living in two countries, but in both situations I observed and absorbed a lot about what can contribute to daily happiness.

This is not to say that the Japanese are a particularly happy nation; according to the 2016 World Happiness Report published by the UN each year, Japan ranks 53rd in terms of happiness sentiment amongst its population. This is quite a bit lower than the UK (23rd), Canada (6th) and the US (13th).

I can see why Japan ranks so averagely. It’s true that just observing many sectors of the population leaves you a little depressed: the middle aged man who works stressful, high pressure 16 hour days and never sees his family, the teenager who is too shy to leave his room, the woman who married too young and not for love and who was forced to give up all her hopes and dreams to attend to the house and kids. These are stereotypes, yes, but all characters I encountered frequently during my time there.

At the other end of the scale are some of the happiest, most at peace and self-aware people I’ve ever met. Many parts of the culture are just set up and designed to make you feel content. Japan is also the place where I figured out a lot about what made me happy (and quite a bit about what didn’t – perhaps I’ll save that for another time!), so without further ado, here’s my personal list of what Japan taught me about happiness.

ise-udon-696853_6401. A Passion & Gratitude for Food: No deprivation, no guilt, just real food and smaller portions. Japan has a phenomenal food scene. Despite the abundance of fish on every menu, it didn’t matter that I was a vegetarian; I still really, really enjoyed the food. It was seasonal, fresh and appreciated. When you grow up surrounded by rice farms, you know how precious and difficult to harvest each grain is. The same can be said for the fruit, vegetables and fish that make up the diet, and not a spoonful is wasted or thrown away. Each month there is a new fruit in the supermarkets to try, and my coworkers would often bring in boxes of fruit or vegetables sent from relatives elsewhere in the country. We’d all share the food and it was glorious. We all know that food can make us happy; eating healthily, seasonally and sharing food without guilt or counting calories only enhances this pleasure.

2. Bathing (and nakedness) is Great.  Continue reading

How to “Self Hack” Yourself to Be a Better Parent, Worker, Exerciser, HUMAN.

“Hacking” is a term used in the tech industry for writing software code that does not follow the rules of how code should be written. Sometimes it is “well-written and elegant”, and sometimes it is “pretty messy and ugly” – either way, if it should take days, weeks or months to write a project and someone manages to hack it out in a few hours by “violating the laws of code”, that’s a hack that has increased efficiency and saved time.

“Life hacking” has come to mean a similar thing, but in our day-to-day lives. It’s a trick, shortcut or other method that can increase productivity and efficiency. For example; painting your set of silver keys with different shades of nail varnish so you know which key is for which door (thus saving you time and stress), or hulling strawberries using a straw (see pic below – amazing). Continue reading